You got into an accident. Don’t beat yourself up over it; accidents happen. At the scene of the accident, you might be angry or frustrated or nervous – all of that is normal. Once you’ve dealt with the police and exchanged information with the other driver, you’ve gotten through the trickiest part. The next step is speaking with your insurance company and filing a claim. A lot of drivers don’t handle this part correctly, but we assure you, using common sense and a level head will make all the difference.
Your insurance premiums may go up after an accident. However, the difference could be thousands if you don’t say the right thing to your insurance company when reporting this accident. You need to be strategic and logical when filing a claim; otherwise, you could be in serious debt… and trouble.
First of all, stay calm. You shouldn’t call your insurer while you’re shaken-up or you might say something you didn’t mean. For this reason, you shouldn’t call your insurer from the scene of the accident, as you may still have an emotional reaction from the incident.
The rule of thumb when speaking to your auto insurer after an accident is to use good judgement. Be honest and reasonable and don’t jump to conclusions. In order for your insurance company to work with you, you’ll need to cooperate; the risks of saying the wrong thing aren’t worth it.
Always tell the truth.
Of course your insurance company won’t see your nose grow over the phone, but more times than not, insurance companies can catch people in the middle of lies. It’s against the law to lie to an insurance agent after an accident. If you feel like the information you’re giving them isn’t thorough enough, that’s okay; it’s better to be somewhat vague than to bend the truth.
Provide estimates rather than exact details.
It’s best to guess on certain things, like the speed you were driving or the size of the scrape on your door, and to tell your insurer that it’s just an estimate. This is better than giving specific details, as you might accidentally exaggerate the truth or give misremembered facts.
Don’t admit fault.
Even if you think you’re the one at fault, don’t take the full blame. Admitting fault to your insurers off the bat may make your rates skyrocket and often result in a low settlement. Instead, keep quiet until the investigators figure it out. Often, they believe that both parties are to blame, though one is more at fault than the other. This could save you a good chunk of cash.
Don’t tell your insurer about any injuries until after you see a doctor.
Anything that isn’t confirmed by a doctor is often not considered. Don’t submit any injury claims until you’ve spoken to or seen your doctor and received a proper diagnosis. Also, don’t say you’re fine if you haven’t seen a doctor. Even if you think you are at the time, you could eventually develop a condition like vertigo – which usually appears with a delay. If you tell them you’re okay too early, they may not cover the costs of any injuries that appear over time.
Saying more than necessary is never a good idea in these kinds of situations. You might say something that makes you look like the at-fault driver, which you don’t want to reveal even if you believe you are, as stated above.
Fight for your protection.
Remember that you’re a customer of your insurance company. Don’t be afraid to argue their rebuttals if they aren’t significant enough. It’s their responsibility to keep you on as a customer, so they may want to work with you if you put up a reasonable fight. Your insurer wants to assist you; they don’t want to be the bad guy.